Thursday, February 22, 2007


So race season got you down? Your roster of races got you freaked out? You suddenly thinking of pulling out of competition? Are you daunted by the prospect of the grim visage of multiple race days, while all your buddies are raging onto to spring break?

Maybe you have the wrong attitude...just take Mardi Gras this year. Still on despite the conditions.

As those of you who follow the scene may know, Mardi Gras this year was but a pale shell of its former self, courtesy of some very obvious reasons and continuing tribulations.

The question, of course, is whether a celebration of any kind (especially an all-out blow-out knock-down heel-kicking party of the kind we expect from our Louisiana brethren) is really appropriate given the circumstances--in the city, in the country, in the time of year. Even considering the religious significance of Lent on the Christian calendar.

What most people don't know is that Mardi Gras--or Carnaval, as it's alternatively known to the rest of the world--itself has origins beyond its secular manifestations. Connected in various ways with pre-Christian pagan rituals, the event was adopted by early Christians as a means of encouraging their faithful to exhaust all meat and animal products before the fasting season associated with Lent (over which time meat and animal products would likely rot and go to waste).

Over time, however, the event became a celebration, and in keeping with its pagan roots evolved into a means by which people could vent the pent-up energies that had built up within them during the reclusion of winter, and release whatever restlessness they may have had before the long somber season of sacrifice, fasting, and piety associated with Lent. In so doing, it returned to become the bacchanalian explosion of sensory overload and unrestrained passion that we know today.

What the cultures that follow Carnaval probably realize is that the pagan nature of the festival underscores a fundamental truth about human life: that we as people need to allow ourselves the feeling of joy. Excitement. Fun. Happiness. For all the horror that's in the world, for all the sorrows and dangers in our lives, for all the darkness that fills the days. We as human beings still have to allow ourselves to see the better things in life, and to enjoy what there is to enjoy. If for no other reason to remind ourselves that we are alive.

Because there'll be plenty of time for sobriety ahead.

So allow yourself to have some fun. Races aren't always about grim competition. Training isn't always about suffering. Let yourself enjoy the experience--the pleasure of being with friends, the thrill of sharing an event, the joy of plunging headlong into something that sends your heart racing, blood surging, nerves tingling, muscles straining, and mind expanding...the feeling that you are alive.


And for people who REALLY do it right, reference:

Or better yet, just check it out for yourself:

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